Titanic, the then largest and most luxurious ship in the world had first been released into the waters of Victoria Channel in Belfast Harbor, exactly one hundred years ago. It was a moment of immense pride for the large number of people who were involved in making it. The local administration had declared an official holiday for the occasion and people had started gathering at the harbor since dawn to witness the launch of the grandest ship ever built. Unfortunately, in less than a year, in April of 1912 Titanic’s maiden voyage ended in disaster when the ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in the death of 1,517 people.
Belfast has a ship building legacy and Titanic in its time was considered the pinnacle of naval architecture and marine engineering. It was no less than a modern cruise ship. The ship was built to the highest standards of safety. The ship’s terrible end has always diverted the attention from the fact that Titanic was a feat of engineering. In Belfast, a sense of shame was attached to the very mention of Titanic. But all that is changing now after a hundred years. There is a renewed pride in the city’s extraordinary maritime history. The city is holding a range of events, readings and tours to celebrate the centenary of the launch.
The most significant initiative in this direction is the construction of the Titanic Signature Building. The design of the building is eye catching and will be an attraction for the new visitor. Apart from chronicling the story of the iconic ship, it will showcase the history of shipbuilding and seafaring in Belfast. It is being built at a cost of $160 million and is sure to be an important destination in the Titanic pilgrimage trail. It is located right next to the slipways where the Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic, were assembled. The unique design of the building is shaped like a star whose corners resemble the famous bow of the Titanic. The building which has already become a landmark is clad in three dimensional zinc plates. The Harland and Wolff offices where the Titanic was conceived is just next to the new Titanic Signature Building. The old offices will be torn down to make way for a luxury hotel.